Friday night was the premier of “La Mission” in Santa Cruz and I was so excited to see this new film directed by Peter Bratt. I had seen Peter’s film “Follow Me Home” which was impressive and powerful. I see Peter as a director who makes films that have powerful messages and when it comes to the responsibility of creating the details of scenes and characters, he takes it seriously consulting with those whom he has respect for.
That’s why when I heard about “La Mission”, I knew that there would be several layers presented beyond the main topic of a father coming to terms with his son’s homosexuality. As expected, I was not disappointing. Not only did the film shine a spotlight on the issue of homophobia, it went above and beyond to touch on the issues of violence (in its many forms), sexism, gentrification, religion, and family dynamics. The bonus was in doing so in the rich background of San Francisco’s Mission District and Lowrider culture.
I’m not going to review the film or it’s obvious themes, but I am going to delve into how this film impacted me as a result of my life experiences.
The Lowriders alone were enough to convince me to see this film. It is a culture that surrounded me as a child in Salinas during the 70’s. In watching this movie, I was taken back to my childhood and couldn’t help but smile from the nostalgia. He captured the essence of that time for me so well in small scenes that took me back to moments of my brother asking me to “darle gas” while he worked under the hood, or tap the brakes so he could check his blinkers and brake lights. Event the small details of the Che’s character having grease under his nails brought back the memory of seeing my brothers taking cars apart and pounding out dents. I could practically smell the grease and bondo. Even the bike scene between Che and Lena was spot on.
The details, the details. Oh how I loved the details of this film. In Che’s garage there hangs a central image of Clint Eastwood’s character in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. When I saw this people, you know I smiled. As a kid it seemed like this movie series was always on the television. I love his strong, quiet character and I think that shaped so much of what I find as attractive. When I asked Peter why he chose that image for the film, he mentioned that in The Mission District, that image is as prevalent as Brando and Pacino. I had no idea, I thought I was the only one that adopted Clint’s character into the Chicano mindset. What a surprise.
“Trying” to accept you
What also surprised me was a reaction I had to a scene where Che is sitting at the dinner table with his son. His son is emotionally opening up to him about his fear of coming out and how he knew he was gay since childhood. Che says to him “I said I’d try, and I’m trying” and “I can’t do this”. When he uttered these words I could feel my heart racing and tears well up in my eyes.
I know what it’s like to be on the receiving of those words. When someone you care for looks at you and despite their affection for you, says that they are “trying” to accept you but they can’t. It tears apart the core of your being, not to mention your heart. You battle with being true to yourself because the reality is, it’s not your issue but becomes your problem. You are at a crossroads in making a decision between losing yourself and losing the another person. It feels unfair that someones closed mindedness can put you in that position. A position that rejects love and acceptance.
It parallels with my previous post “Killing Me Softly”, where I touch on how others can reject you when being who you are or what you’re going through makes them uncomfortable.
God is punishing you
I’m not a religious person, but it still amazes me how growing up Catholic still impacts my life. There is a dialogue between Che and his compadre where they talk about how they felt God was punishing them because of their past. How many times have I still thought “God is punishing me” despite knowing better? How many good deeds must I do to lessen the guilt of past errors? How do you move on with this kind of oppression of the mind, soul, and spirit?
If you can, do see this movie. It’s traveling the across a few states and thankfully, the list of venues is growing To see the list of venues go the film’s website (http://lamissionthemovie.com/) and if you don’t see your city listed, go to http://eventful.com/ to demand it in your area.